Signed for Southampton by Claude Puel on loan from his former club Nice, Mouez Hassen never played for the Saints, but that doesn’t mean that his time at St Mary’s was a waste of time. Far from it.
Speaking to So Foot, the young goalkeeper, now on loan at Chateauroux, a club he ‘deserves to be at’, feels he’s managed to turn a page in his life, and it’s all thanks to his time in the south west of England.
Raving about the now jobless French manager, Hassen opened up about everything he learnt under his tutelage, including a change of mentality.
He said: “Over there (England), you work a lot more, and, frankly, it was rewarding. The penny certainly dropped because of those six months. At first, I was scared about leaving Nice, but I was lucky that Puel called me. He told me to come and work, first and foremost.
“We talked a lot, about my faults, my qualities, and it all helped me grow mentally. The main problem was my self belief, a huge part of top level sport and maybe even more in football. I was getting sick of hearing ‘don’t worry, it’ll all fall into place’. I needed someone to lay into me, and that’s what Puel did”.
As So Foot point out, this all seemed rather strange since the former Southampton manager was the one who benched him in the first place at Nice, but Hassen cleared things up quickly.
He explained: “Yes, but he also did everything for me off the pitch. He’s the one who trusted me, who gave me a chance professionally, who made me number one. Football is complex: you can have all the talent in the world, if you’re not focused, if you don’t work, if you’re not careful off the pitch, it won’t work.
“At Southampton, that’s what we worked on the most. The rules were clear: you come here in the morning, work, stay in the afternoon too. You get a structure, and I saw what real work was. At Southampton I told myself: that’s it, this is what I want to do, I want to be a professional footballer and that’s how I want to be”.
Never wanting to give up, per se, the former Saints goalkeeper did think more than once about doing something else for a while, far from football.
Now trying his best to win back his number one position at Nice, the 22-year-old knows he’ll get there eventually.
But first, Ligue 2 football with Chateauroux.